Last month, just after finals passed and the holidays gnawed away at my blogging time, I wrote a completely biased post on Marcus Tracy, the stud striker from Wake Forest. I am not afraid to say that it bordered on man-crush material.
Anyway, I basically stated what could have been summed up in two or three high-quality sentences: the Revolution must find a way to draft and sign him. They must. Lest they face the threat of another mediocre season.
Well, thanks to my new Soccer America subscription, I learned yesterday - via e-mail (how cruel)- that Tracy is apparently working on a deal to sign with a Danish club after bypassing last week's MLS Combine.
After I propped my jaw back up, my emotions turned from disappointment to slight anger. It's not so much that his goal appears to be across the pond, but that MLS may not have even made a sizeable pitch to him. First Charlie Davies, now Tracy. Ugh. It's not always fun being a soccer enthusiast in the good ol' U-S of A.*
(*TIRADE ALERT! Five...four...three...two....one...)
If MLS wants to raise its profile here, then it has GOT to start signing these top-notch prospects at once. It should be the first bullet point at the top of the memo. Forget expansion.
As a fan, it pains me to watch top-tier talent bypass the league completely, and playing in relatively obscure leagues that no one here has regular TV feeds to.
The sad thing is that this becoming all to commonplace. Two of the past three sure-fire first picks have skipped country for Europe. First it was Davies. Now Tracy. And I'd bet my left kidney that he won't be the last.
MLS and U.S. Soccer have to fix this. I understand the theory that international experience aids the development of young American footballers. I'm not arguing that. I just feel there has to be a way to keep these guys in the States for couple of years before they go abroad.
I'm not blaming the players themselves for chasing the fatter paycheck, even in the guise of improving one's game. But, I think some perspective is warranted here.
Eric Wynalda, John Harkes, Cobi Jones, Tab Ramos and Alexi Lalas all came back to the U.S. when MLS launched fourteen years ago. They could have easily stayed in their European dwellings, making a bit more money, and in front of livelier crowds. Instead, they understood the obligation to promote the game here, and they did, because they knew that first division soccer in the States should not be taken for granted.
Yes, I think some of today's college guys forget that. They grew up with pro soccer already in place. It's easier for them to take MLS for granted. But those of us that didn't have MLS around in our youth understand the true value of having a professional soccer league in our backyards.
So, yeah, I'm disappointed to see Tracy go to Europe because it means he definitely isn't coming to New England. However, I'm more saddened that young kids, in dire need of American soccer heroes, won't get to see a potential star develop in MLS.